(#369) About Kayaks And Perspective

June 18, 2017

If we focus on the possible negative, we get sucked into it.

Lessons. Everywhere, lessons present themselves.  And they remind us that we are always students. Lifelong learners. If we pay attention.

My latest education has come over the past few weeks courtesy of my new twelve-foot ocean kayak.

Previously, I had paddled in the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, the Florida Keys, and in North Florida inlets.  Let’s say my first week of ocean kayaking has gifted me some wonderful lessons.

  • Perspective. I spend time on the beach observing surfers and paddle boarders. I notice smooth water, small waves, and storm-tossed breakers. The appreciation for the conditions, though, changed when I walked my kayak into the ocean for the first time. The waves took on a very different perspective  atop of (and soon tossed from) my kayak seat.
    • Lesson. Until we dive into a project, we do not have a full appreciation of what to expect.  A new job might look perfect—until we report to work. Perhaps it’s criticizing a co-worker, government action, or the stance of a group different from ours.  Until we get into that water, we really don’t understand that perspective.

  • Respect and Fear. I have always had a deep respect for the ocean.  That is different from the fear I felt the first time I paddled beyond the breakers. I could feel myself tense up—which in turn led to poor body mechanics. Instead of attacking the waves, I stopped paddling–and eventually ended up in the water with the boat on top of me. (With a broken seat back and lost sunglasses, thank you very much!)
    • Lesson. Fear can lead to counter-productive actions. We start to focus on the thing we do NOT want to do. I once heard a race car driver’s advice on how NOT to hit the racetrack wall. Simply, he said, do NOT look at the wall. If we focus on the possible negative, we get sucked into it. My first day on the kayak I focused on the waves and not being tossed rather than focusing on the shore and gliding to a stop. I tensed up and face planted in the water.

  • Adrift. The first time I got beyond the breakers and to (relatively) smoother, less undulating water, I looked back and saw that I was further from shore than I had thought. The voice in my head cried, “What the hell are you doing out here? Way out here?”
    • Lesson. When we attempt something new, when we stretch ourselves, we might feel adrift. Like we have no anchor. We find ourselves treading unfamiliar waters. Some people quit. Some figure out how to persevere. Some look for reassurance and guidance.  In my case, I looked a little north and spied surfers and paddle boarders. I felt better knowing others were close by. They wouldn’t paddle my boat but just knowing others were in similar waters gave me a feeling of security. When you feel lost and adrift, look around for those who may be in similar waters. Collegiality can be a powerful motivator.
  • Coaching. I sought out a neighbor with experience to help me with kayaking technique.  From posture, to paddle stroke, to entering and leaving the surf, he has provided needed guidance. Simple ideas take root due to his repetition
    • Lesson.  There is no need to be an island.  Reach out for coaching.  A fresh set of eyes and a different perspective can help move you to a new level. (And do not forget gratitude. Bruce found a twelve-pack of his favorite beverage on his patio later that week.)
  • Daily Discipline. Each day I go out, I see improvement. I paddle further; spill less frequently; unload, load, and strap the kayak to the cart with more skill.  I now look at how the waves break on a particular day before lunging into the surf.  I am more aware. I still have a long way to paddle—and I have come a long way, as well.
    • Lesson. Whether you want to call it locus of control or self-efficacy, when you fall short, get up, fall again, get up again…ad nauseum….you learn, you grow, and move closer to a goal. If we fail to notice that we fail to notice—we hinder our movement forward.


Video recommendation for the week.

Sometimes laughing is the best way to soothe a bruised ego. With that in mind, my bride sent me this video link.  Even kayakers have a blooper reel.


Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network™ (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#367) Understand Your Goal Motivation

June 4, 2017

Create a space for transparency, authenticity, and accountability for yourself.

During the life of this blog, we have examined often the power and purpose of goals.  In addition to the “what” we have looked at the “how,” “when” and “why.”

Last week, when I facilitated an Austin, Texas workshop, I encouraged the audience to consider The Six Ps when it comes to why they want to speak or publish.  The same steps easily apply to other professional or personal goals.  Consider how each of the following may act as goal motivators.

  • Publish, Present, or Perish.
    • In the world of higher education, publishing may be a requirement for contract renewal. In your case, your motivation may be to lose weight or suffer a heart attack; save money or never enjoy a comfortable retirement; or find affordable healthcare or face the prospects of life without basic coverage. Does your goal have a distinctive and critical sense of urgency?
  • Promotion.
    • Perhaps a professional goal will help you advance to another level of development within your calling. Maybe you need to promote a community resource for a specific service area. Or maybe you finally decided that you need to promote a non-digital, distraction-free hour every night for your family to re-connect. When you reach your goal (or while you journey to your goal), what core value(s) does the goal advance?
  • Passion.
    • It might prove beneficial to do a “passion check” for your goal. What compelling emotion or desire moves you in this direction? Is it your goal or someone else’s dream for you?
  • Personal Connection.
    • A young woman in a recent workshop shared with the group that she wanted to write a book about breast cancer. She believes she has a decided vantage point as someone who has experienced, survived, and grown because of the cancer that touched her life. Her passion and a personal connection are twin motivators pushing her forward.  Can you clearly articulate how your personal and professional goal personally resonates for you?
  • Profit.
    • Maybe the pay range for the new job listing caught your attention. Or perhaps the pitch at a seminar on how to flip houses sounded promising. Pause and ask, “Is money the motivating factor here? Will it be enough to keep me moving forward? And will the goal of profit connect with my core values?”
  • Prestige.
    • Some people want to publish a book just so they can see their name on the cover. The ego boost becomes the drive. Do you find that your goal direction connects directly to status, standing, and reputation?

The Six Ps can help you clarify the “why” of your goals.  One is neither better nor worse than others are.  Each item can create a space for transparency, authenticity, and accountability for yourself.


Video recommendation for the week.

Consider the message of this TED Talk about understanding why we do what we do and the impact that has on our authenticity.


Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network™ (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#365) Listening For Stories Of Inspiration

May 21, 2017

Inspiration from a woman who did not let circumstance
dictate her outcome.

[Note to my readers: Today’s post marks the beginning of the eighth year of this weekly blog.  Thank you for following, sharing, and commenting.]

Stories. They surround us. Some have the power to illustrate, instruct, and inspire.

Minutes before I delivered my commencement address to the Florida State College at Jacksonville Class of 2017, I had a front row (literally) seat for a young woman’s touching story about her journey.

Lyse Medina, the FSCJ Kent Campus Student Government Association President, delivered a 4½ minute description of her journey as an immigrant, a daughter, a student, a leader, and a person with heart and determination.

Her tale is one of perseverance and resilience. “My past did not define me, but it did lead me to where I am today,” she told the nearly ten thousand people before us.


Video recommendation for the week.

Rather than tell you about Lyse’s speech, listen to it. Learn and grow from it. Her story in her words. A reminder of the importance of community colleges in our society. And a powerful dose of inspiration from a young woman who did not let circumstances dictate her outcomes. She envisioned her dreams and she will continue to define her journey. I am glad to have met and learned from her.

My appreciation to FSCJ for sharing the video and to Lyse for allowing me to share it with you. Note: The video should start with her introduction. If it does not, move to minute 52 for Lyse.


Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network™ (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#363) A Resiliency Group: Collaboration, Creativity, Caring, and Collegiality

May 7, 2017

Rather than waiting for (or blaming) “them” to do something,
get creative and start a resiliency movement yourself.

During my undergraduate years at Jacksonville University, I spent a fair number of hours in the campus library. On the second floor (as I remember), there were a few study rooms.  Here a student could isolate himself for quiet. I recall some of these rooms having a typewriter for those needing to hammer out a term paper. Quiet time.

When I taught at Florida State College at Jacksonville, the library had quiet rooms for students to study or practice for presentations.  These study groups helped students understand concepts, share ideas, review notes, and encourage one another during exam preparation. Collaborative growth and development.

The image of students pulling all-nighters notwithstanding, some campuses now provide nap zones and nap stations.  A rested student is a better-prepared student the thinking goes.

When I visited Zappos headquarters last month, I met the “Zappos Mayor” (Tony Ferrara). In follow-up emails, I asked the “Mayor” about the Zappos nap room.  Where there any metrics on its use and success?

Photo by Steve Piscitelli

“Yes, we do have a nap room here at Zappos for those folks that may need a little power nap during their break or lunch times. In addition to the nap room, we have several miscellaneous benefits here at Zappos …. We don’t provide these extras specifically for the purpose of quantifying their results. We provide them as part of building and maintaining culture through employee engagement.   For example, we don’t monitor who uses the nap rooms at all. They’re there for the benefit and convenience of team members, not for analyzing metrics.”


Video recommendation for the week.

Arianna Huffington promotes the power of rested employees.  As she states in this clip, the workplace “pays people for their judgment not their stamina.”


More than likely, your workplace does not have a nap room.  The culture and the leadership may not support such a departure from the industrial work model.  OK. What can you do to promote wellbeing?

Rather than waiting for (or blaming) “them” to do something, get creative and start a movement yourself.  Consider your own “resilience group.”  Create a critical mass for a “resilience movement.”  It could start over a cup of coffee or a walk around the campus during lunch.

It does not have to be a venting group. In fact, since it is a resilience group, you may want to focus on positives. What is working in your workplace and how can you create more of it?

Start with a group of co-workers you can trust, talk with, and share ideas; people who understand your experiences. You function as a collegial support group. You might find that you need to bring in a facilitator at some point to bring your “movement” to a higher level.

At times, just having co-workers acknowledge that they hear our concerns, and maybe share those concerns, is the shot of energy we need. Great start. But what action will you take beyond the words?  What will your collective resiliency plan look like? When will you start?

Collaboration.  Caring.  Collegiality. No need to be an island.

It’s worth consideration.

Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

Check out my latest podcasts at The Growth and Resilience Network™
(http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

Check out my website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#362) Small Acts of Gratitude

April 30, 2017

“Silent gratitude is not much use to anyone.”
– Gertrude Stein –

Saying “thank you.” Giving a cheerful “good morning!” Expressing appreciation. Providing a hug, emotionally if not physically.  Each of these requires a tiny investment of energy.  The result compounds in ways we may not anticipate.

I have been spending time lately listening to my podcast episodes and reacquainting myself with the wonderful insights of my guests.  After I re-listen to an episode, I take a few minutes to send an email thanking the guest for his/her contributions to the community.  Literally, the email takes about 180 seconds to create and “send.”

The goal is simple: recognition and validation of a person. A small act.

Almost to a person, their responses (which I was not expecting) said something along the lines of “you don’t know how much your email means to me.”  One individual was having a particularly rough week (which I had no way of knowing).  The email told me, “Thanks for the email…appreciate the little things in life!”

Five years ago, I dedicated myself to a year a gratitude. You can read about here.  I committed myself to a simple daily discipline—and it continues to give back to others.  (I still have people, to whom I sent a gratitude note, share that they have kept and cherish my handwritten note.)

Think of the small acts of kindness done for you—and that you do for others.  It does not take much effort to say thank you or recognize a job-well-done.

Thank you for reading and sharing my blog. Thank you for the gratitude you share with your community.

Thank you.

P.S.  A few hours after I wrote this blog post, I received an unexpected “Thank You Note” from a friend. She simply wanted to thank me for being in her life.  A card that I will tuck away in my gratitude file.

Nice.

Thank you!


Video recommendation for the week.

I have shared this video before.  It never gets old because it helps us connect with one another on a personal, meaningful, and authentic level.


Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

Check out my latest podcasts at The Growth and Resilience Network™
(http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

Check out my website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#360) Embrace Life’s Fragility

April 16, 2017

A reminder to appreciate.

Attending the screening premier last week reminded me of life’s fragility. In a good way.

Embracing the fragility recognizes that this part of the journey is limited.  The embrace, for me, brings appreciation and respect.  It, also, nudges me to treasure the precious life source rather than focus on fear and what-ifs.

Over the course of our lifetime we do a lot, see a lot, gather a lot, read a lot, work a lot, write a lot, plan a lot, talk a lot, tweet a lot, post a lot, Instagram a lot, and ____ (you fill in the blank). Each one of those experiences represents a dot on your lifeline. We have gathered thousands of those dots on our journey. And we will gather thousands more. What, however, do we do with those dots?

A colleague of mine from California wonders if we spend too much time collecting dots and not enough time connecting those dots.

Are the dots in our lives meaningful? Do we savor and appreciate them? Do we discern? Or do we just collect?

I used to challenge my students to pause often and examine what they were doing with their education and experiences.  Why were they doing what they were doing?  Did their goals involve building a transcript or constructing and living a meaningful and worthwhile life?

Take a moment this week and reflect on the dots.


Video recommendation for the week.

Sting sings, “How fragile we are. How fragile we are.”

A reminder to appreciate.

Hug your life.


Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

Check out my latest podcasts at The Growth and Resilience Network™
(http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

Check out my website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

 


(#358) “I Don’t Want To Burn Out”

April 2, 2017

How can we raise our awareness, question our assumptions,
and create meaningful actions for improvement?

One researcher found that 29% of American employees say they thrive in their jobs (or 71% do not thrive).  A study out of the Stanford Business School noted ten factors that may be killing you in your workplace. Another source explains that “burnout syndrome” can manifest in three forms: overload, boredom, and worn-out.

What causes burnout? Does the individual hold responsibility? Do poor managers create it? Do we see out-of-work place factors (like family-work integration or financial considerations) creating in-workplace stressors? All of the above? Something else?

One of the early scenarios of my new book gives the reader a chance to confront the issue of burnout straight on and consider coping strategies. While I wrote the scenario specifically for college and university faculty, I believe you can apply it to other professions. Take out the reference to “faculty” and insert your occupation, for example.

You may work in the ideal environment where burnout is minimal to non-existent. If so, I would like to learn about what makes it so. Leave a comment on this blog.

For those who either deal with burnout personally (as an employee or manager) or work/live with someone in a slow burnout, I offer the text of my Scenario #6: “I Don’t Want To Burnout” below. Following the scenario, you will find reflection questions to serve as conversation starters about burnout and strategies to deal with it.  How can you recognize warnings of stress and burnout? What steps can you take to address these issues?


Video recommendation for the week.

Let me set the stage with a quick 57-second video.

For more hands-on introductory videos, visit my video playlist.


The Scenario:

Professor Johnson decided to clear a space in her calendar to attend a series of on-campus reflective practice discussions. Even though this is her first semester as a full-time faculty member, her faculty mentor suggested she consider this workshop. “It will provide you with strategies to become more aware of what and why you do what you do in the classroom.”

At the initial meeting, the workshop facilitator asked the participants why they had signed up for these reflective practice sessions. Professor Johnson was prepared to say jokingly that her mentor made her do it—but as she listened to her more senior colleagues share their reasons, she came to a different and more sobering realization.

Of the nine faculty members participating in this workshop, two said they were present because they had burned out and had lost their passion for teaching. They hoped this might help rekindle their spirits. Four other colleagues said they were in the process of a slow burnout. They were experiencing difficulty connecting with their students as they once had done. They could sense they were losing patience with their students and colleagues. Each said it had become tougher to find meaning in their work.

Professor Johnson took in each of these genuine responses. When her turn came around, she simply stated, “I don’t want to burn out. That is why I am here. I want to learn from you what to do and what not to do.”

Reflect on This

  • What causes burnout?
  • Can we avoid burnout?
  • If Professor Johnson came to you and asked you for strategies to avoid burnout, what would be your top two or three strategies?
  • What resources are available at your institution to help faculty avoid or at least recognize burnout?

Like our professor in the above scenario, recognition can (and needs to) generate questions about why we find ourselves in such situations. How can we raise our awareness, question our assumptions, and create meaningful actions for improvement?

Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

Check out my latest podcasts at The Growth and Resilience Network™
(http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

Check out my website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


%d bloggers like this: